Black is back. Thankfully, we're now a long way from the land that taste forgot -- a time when all PC peripherals were beige. While white has a hard time finding acceptance outside of the Apple stables, black has made a huge comeback.
Yes, essentially this is the WD Passport of old -- black instead of silver -- but it has also enjoyed a capacity boost as well. The last time we looked at a Passport the maximum capacity was 80GB, but thanks to the wonders of perpendicular storage technology the drive is now able to shoehorn in twice as much data. This technology is theoretically capable of faster transfer rates, which means it takes less time to read and write your files to the disk.
The build is fairly straightforward: it's a plastic case surrounding a 160GB 2.5 inch drive. It weighs a light 108 grams and measures 13cm long, 8cm wide, and 1.5cm thick. The surface boasts a piano-gloss finish and so attracts fingerprints, though as there's no display it doesn't matter as much. There's a blue activity light and a single mini-USB port which is covered by a rubber flap. And that's it.
Unlike the previous Passport, there's no need for an external power source as it powers itself through the USB port.
On the disk is a Google installer which gives you Picasa, Desktop Search and the Toolbar. WD Sync lets you synch your PCs folders and files, Internet favourites, wallpaper (!) and mail as well. Also included in this version is the easy to use WD Sync Software, and is much welcomed as the original Passport had no backup utility.
Using a combination of benchmarking programs SiSoftware Sandra and HDTach, we determined that the device was able to read at 29.6MB/s, and then capable of a sequential write speed of 25MB/s. Compared to the informal tests carried out on the last Passport, which got a write speed of 16MB/s this is an improvement of over 50 percent.
Both speed and capacity have increased with this drive, but so has the price -- to a hefty AU$429. So if speed, portability, and the increased size is important to you then this is an OK deal. If portability isn't as important, try Western Digital's much cheaper MyBook with a 250GB capacity.
Editor's note: the original retail price of the WD Passport Portable 160 GB was AU$429, however WD recently informed us that the price has dropped to AU$199. This review is based on the original price.